I got sucked into a really dark and vile part of the Internet just now.
I’m friends with a lot of people on Facebook, and sometimes people post things that I think are wild and off-base. I like to call them on it, because I’m self-righteous and pugnacious but also because ideas matter and the right ideas need to be advocated. But honestly, most of my friends’ views are at least respectable even if I don’t agree with them. Today though, I saw something that was utterly appalling…
This one friend posted a link to this article, a hateful screed about Michael Sam that was written by some bigot named Matt Walsh. It’s the kind of article that only deserves to be mocked, but my friend prefaced it with a comment of approval! So, while it does a disservice to humanity to discuss the things that Mr. Walsh has espoused as if they are worthy of intelligent debate, I also felt the need to do a point-by-point rebuttal.
Dude starts with obnoxiously rank sanctimony.
He complains that, “If you do anything less than fall to your knees weeping tears of jubilation that a man who is sexually attracted to men was picked to play a game for a living — you’re a homophobe,” which is really not true. People are not being called homophobes for their ambivalence; they’re being called homophobes for lashing out against Michael Sam for expressing his love for his boyfriend on TV in the same way that straight players express their love towards their girlfriends in similar contexts all the time.
But of course, Matt Walsh actually IS a homophobe and the sanctimony at the beginning is just meant to draw us into his rant. And I quote:
You don’t get to have it both ways. You can tell me that your sexuality is nobody’s business — what you do in your bedroom is between you and whoever you do it with — and I’ll agree. I’ve never taken it upon myself to approach a group of strangers and survey them about their carnal propensities. In my life, I’ve probably had thousands of conversations with thousands of different people. Of those thousands, I can safely say that not once have I begun the exchange by saying, “Hello, my name is Matt. Do you sleep with people of the same gender?” […]
[M]ere months before the draft, [Sam] decided to declare himself to ESPN and the New York Times. My first thought: OK, was anybody asking? […]
If you simply wish to be accepted, perhaps you’d discuss these private details with those closest to you. If you wish to be celebrated, you throw yourself a party and call the press.
Homophobes made this “their business” — not gay people. I’m sure that many gay people would prefer to keep their sexuality private but society doesn’t let them. People are fired from their jobs because of who they love. People are beaten to death for it. In the NFL, the fear of living openly as gay was so strong that no man had done it until now.
If people weren’t making sexuality their business, then none of those things would be true.
Standing up and saying “this is who I am and I’m not going to let you treat me like this because of it” is not “trying to have it both ways.” It’s taking control of your life. That’s an exciting thing and it ought to be publicized because we still live in a world where the term “gay” is openly thrown around by adolescents as a term to mean “stupid.” Gay people, and gay issues, are still used as punchlines in mainstream media. The NFL is a league that still includes violent bullies like Richie Incognito.
The alternative to what Mr. Walsh is saying is “having it both ways” is shutting up and accepting being a second-class citizen.
People are “proclaiming” who they are and having parades because society has made their sexuality its business, demeaned them, and made them feel ashamed of themselves. They’re taking back their identities. Mr. Walsh is either deliberately obtuse or is simply not very good at empathy. He claims to not care about peoples’ sexuality, but his words reveal that he actually really cares about it a lot.
It’s extraordinarily myopic to criticize Sam for being public about his sexuality while saying he wants to be private. He went public in the hopes that others like him will be able to be however public or private that they want about their sexualities. He made his gayness an issue so that gay athletes that come after him won’t have to worry about their gayness being an issue.
Is that really that difficult of a nuance to grasp?
I’m not saying that he’s not a hero, but I am saying that telling the world about his sex life sure doesn’t make him one. […]
There’s nothing brave about any of this. You can’t measure a man’s bravery by his ability to endure high-fives and congratulations from millions of fawning fans.
To call this heroic is to obliterate the meaning of the word. I’m sure Sam will hear some taunts and jeers, but the people taunting and jeering will be swiftly and immediately punished.
Reducing what Michael Sam did to “telling the world about his sex life” is, again, deliberately obtuse. He hasn’t told us anything about his sex life, actually — although Mr. Walsh appears to like extrapolation.
What he has told us that he doesn’t want to have to choose between being open about who he is and pursuing his career in the NFL. And the reason it’s heroic is because he’s an example to people all over the country and world who have faced the same discrimination and fear.
It’s really heartening that people are supporting Michael Sam. The high-fives don’t make him less courageous. Firefighters get “high-fives and congratulations” for saving lives — are they not heroes? Soldiers get yellow ribbons — are they not heroes?
The popularity of your actions doesn’t relate to the heroism of them whatsoever. Having support doesn’t make you less brave — is a cancer survivor who went through hellish chemotherapy less brave if that cancer survivor has a loving family that supports her?
Michael Sam cheerleaders are hypocrites of the lowest sort. Say what you will about Tim Tebow; one thing you can’t deny is that the dude was told loudly, harshly, and frequently, to ‘keep his religion to himself.’ Football isn’t a place for religion, they said. […]
Other current and former NFL players, like Jake Plummer, said they wished Tebow would “shut up” with the Jesus talk. Plummer was never chastised for making those statements, and no player was ever fined for complaining about Tebow’s overt religiosity. […]
Will players who tell Sam to “shut up” with the gay talk be treated as leniently? I guess that question has already been answered. One Miami Dolphin sent out a two word disparaging Tweet when ESPN spent 26 hours airing footage of the now famous same-sex kiss. The offender has since been fined and banned from the team until he undergoes ‘educational training.’ […]
The double standard is so obvious, so inevitable, and so common that I’m bored with pointing it out. Tell Tebow to stop praising his Lord and Savior, and the country will laugh and cheer along, but tell Sam to stop trying to turn his sex life into international headlines, and you’ll be bound, gagged, and tossed into a river.
No, that’s not hypocrisy and there is no double standard.
We are all free to express our religious beliefs in this country — whether that religion is “Jesus is Great” or “Shut up about Jesus.” Neither Tim Tebow or Jake Plummer were fined. And by the way, what body would be able to fine Jake Plummer, who stopped playing in the NFL several years before Tebow’s career started?
Talking about religion is Constitutionally-protected speech. Fining either Tebow or Jake Plummer would be unlawful.
There are, however, plenty of laws about creating hostile workplaces and sexual harassment. These men are employees of their organizations and they’re all bound by the NFL’s code of conduct. That code of conduct specifically prohibits the type of behavior for which the Dolphins player was fined. If he didn’t know that when he made his comments on Twitter, that’s his fault for being ignorant of the agreement to which he voluntarily submitted. Bravo to the NFL for taking this issue as seriously as it does.
And come on! Walsh says “two word disparaging Tweet” as if word count and vileness were somehow related. I can think of a LOT of very despicable things that you can say in only two words… And I’ll refrain from listing them to avoid being accused of hurling them at Mr. Walsh.
And finally, using the actions of a select few idiots on Twitter to indict everyone who supports Michael Sam is about as fair, intelligent, and conducive to civil debate as using the actions of the people who beat Matthew Shepard to death to indict everyone who doesn’t support gay rights. No one should ever make death treats against anyone. That’s completely beside the point, though.
Media hacks have already begun… furrowing their brows and inquiring as to why Saint Michael Sam didn’t get taken off the board until the very end of the last round. Could it be homophobia, they wonder?
Perhaps, or could it be that Sam is a small, slow, middling prospect who might not be good enough to even make the squad? Could it be that he’s exactly the type of player who often goes undrafted every single year? Could it be that he’s a below average talent?
With that said, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if some teams were scared away by the media circus that follows him. That’s a funny thing about football teams — they’re worried about winning football games, not becoming champions for liberal social change. Michael Sam chose to call attention to his sex life. He chose to whip up a media frenzy. That choice guaranteed him a spot on a roster, if only for political reasons. But it also guaranteed that he would be a distraction to whatever team he ultimately joined.
This is all a joke, only it’s not even funny anymore.
As I type this, I see that Michael Sam has already started starring in ads, making him, I’m assuming, the first 7th round pick to ever get an endorsement deal before training camp even starts.
This is just rampant speculation based on neither logic nor evidence. The closest thing we have to an example — Jason Collins on the Brooklyn Nets — did not generate a media circus. In fact, he was a huge asset for getting a middling team to the playoffs…
Mr. Walsh, a blowhard whose job is to write whining and blog posts about an imagined “the liberal menace,” seems to be delighted at the prospect of Michael Sam failing. However, Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN – a guy who played college football, did a stint at Sports Illustrated, and has been a senior writer covering the NFL for ESPN for the past seven years – has presented much more compelling and thoughtful analysis to suggest exactly why he thinks Sam will succeed.
A quick trip to the NFL Hall of Fame website shows that nine different Seventh-round draft picks have become Hall of Famers. The rest of this article shows how backwards his worldview is, but this just shows Mr. Walsh to be foolish. If I were him, I’d let Sam play before deciding he’ll fail and pronouncing that he’ll be a distraction. However, it’s clear from Mr. Walsh’s writing that he doesn’t get embarrassed, so I’m sure he’ll just ignore it if he’s wrong.
But I have to ask — what kind of a person gets his jollies by rooting for a sports player to fail? I mean, I’m not that into sports, but I thought it was about feeling positively about the players and teams you want to do so well. If Mr. Walsh is genuinely as ambivalent as he pronounces himself to be, then why does he relish the idea of Sam failing? What a negative guy!
And congratulations to Michael Sam for his endorsement deal. It’s funny that, just a few paragraphs after bringing up Tim Tebow, Mr. Walsh complains about someone who gets endorsements based more on their off-field persona than on how well they play — that’s quite a bit of cognitive dissonance there!
In the Visa [sic] spot, Sam insists that he only wants to be judged for what he does on the field.
A fine sentiment, but one that would have been easily accomplished had he not gone to great lengths to be applauded for what he does in the bedroom.
Michael Sam didn’t ask to be “applauded for what he does in the bedroom.” He asked to be able to pursue his lifelong goals without having to lie about who he is, and he did so publicly so that he might be able to inspire other people to do the same. We’re applauding him because he deserves it.